China, Technology

Censorship Critics Rejected by China’s Cyber Watchdog

Censorship Critics Rejected by China’s Cyber Watchdog

On Thursday, the top cyber authority in China rejected a report ranking it had received recently, which put China at the last spot out of 65 countries in regard to press freedom. The cyber watchdog said that it was important for the internet to be ‘orderly’ and that the international community should join hands with them to deal with the various cyber issues, which include dealing with fake news. Cyber Administration of China’s (CAC) vice president, Ren Xianliang said that the in the last two decades, the internet has developed rather rapidly in the country, which is enough proof of their success. He also said that they were advocates of allowing free flow of information.

While he did not elaborate, Ren told journalists that they shouldn’t just make the internet free, but should also make it orderly. He added that other governments such as that of Europe and the United States should join them to deal with the matter of fake rumors and news. Strict censorship rules are enforced in China and they have gotten even tougher this year as new surveillance measures have been introduced for social media websites and media outlets have also had restrictions imposed upon them.

On Tuesday, an annual ranking report was released by US NGO Freedom House, which gave China last ranking in the case of internet freedom for the third year consecutively. It also directed criticism at the censorship activity in the country that targets media, ethnic minorities as well as regular citizens. The report also indicated that social media manipulation had been responsible for undermining elections in about 18 countries in the last year. This year, new rules were introduced by China, which included putting a ban on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as well as other methods that could be used by people for circumventing the Great Firewall of the country.

This is responsible for blocking foreign news sites and social media in the country. Other than that, new laws were also introduced by the Cyberspace Administration that made the members of messaging app groups legally liable for any content that was categorized as offensive to any socialist values. These moves come as China is preparing to host the top public cyber policy forum next month, which is called the World Internet Conference. Local officials will be joined by members of the UN as well as members of international governments for the purpose of discussing issues about cyber governance.

The event will also be attended by several foreign tech companies and this includes representatives of social media giant, Facebook Inc. The website is blocked in the country by the Great Firewall and cannot be accessed, but it is used regularly by Chinese state media outlets abroad. On Thursday, Ren said that China was ready to welcome any foreign companies that were interested in working in the country, but they would only be allowed if they are willing to follow all the local rules and regulations, which also includes those pertaining to internet use.

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